USDA Checks Wild Birds at McNary National Wildlife Refuge - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

USDA Checks Wild Birds at McNary National Wildlife Refuge

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. NBC Right Now met up with biologists at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday to get a feel for just how many birds migrate through our area. . NBC Right Now met up with biologists at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday to get a feel for just how many birds migrate through our area.
BURBANK, WA- The Avian Flu has now been found near Port Angeles, Washington. This news comes after two domestic flocks in Benton County tested positive for the strain.

Wild birds appear to be the cause of the spread of the disease. NBC Right Now met up with biologists at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday to get a feel for just how many birds migrate through our area. 

Staff at the refuge tell NBC Right Now the USDA has already collected samples from bird hunters that use the area. Although results have not come out yet, they do say they have seen an increase in the number of birds that migrate through the habitat.

"I think we've seen more water fowl this year than we did last year. Up to this point there was a couple weeks when we had the big freeze over and everything got frozen. There weren't as many water fowl then, but they have picked up some use in the fields. All together this year we have seen a little bit more water fowl than we had last year," explained Allison Hall-Mullen who works as a Biological Technician at the refuge.

The increase could be due to the fact that staff recently cleaned out carp from much of the wetland. The carp eat the same vegetation a lot of birds need. 

The birds rest in these sloughs, especially overnight.

"If there's ice, the pockets of melted water will be completely full. But if there's not a lot of ice, sometimes you just can't see a lot of the surface of the water. It's got so much water fowl on it. Ducks and geese of all kinds," said Hall-Mullen.

Geese, mallards, eagles, northern pintails and even swans use this area for food and rest.

Hall-Mullen explained, "They all seem to mesh pretty well together, they hang out in their little groups."

A combination of ponds and buckwheat through cooperative farming efforts make this refuge a home for tens of thousands of birds.

"It's a wonderful opportunity we have a really nice walking trail that goes around the whole edge of the slough. There is a lot of informative signs and nature paths. It's a really great opportunity to come out and be in nature", said Hall-Mullen.

These birds are migrating through the Pacific Flyway from Alaska and biologist usually make their counts from November to March every year.


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